For those of you who have followed my mother’s blog for the past few years may have been blessed with the occasional entry about my family, specifically me! I am my mother’s (or Mim as she likes to be called) oldest and only daughter. Lately, I have been feeling a little neglected as most of Mim’s “family” entries have been about my brothers. Well enough is enough and I have taken over her blog muhahaha…with her permission of course!
In August, I moved down south to begin my teacher career as a special education teacher in MIDDLE SCHOOL!! Yikes! Driven by my desires to provide my students with a creative and cultural endeavor, I took a page from Mim’s book and spent a week and a half learning about Dias de los Muertos. Like any good educator, I needed to do some research on the Mexican holiday prior to teaching it. Mim suggested I email Stephanie Rodrigvitz from http://www.rodrigvitzstyle.typepad.com/. After sending Stephanie an email, she graciously sent me a copy of one of her favorite books.
With such a great resource, my students and I explored the history behind the fabulous holiday, abandoned our preconceptions, learned some Spanish words, wrote versions of the traditional Calaveras poems, and decorated sugar skulls. I even took another page from my mom’s book, by allowing my students to teach me. Not having spoken a word of Spanish since my high school years, I was hesitant to read a Calaveras poem… in Spanish… to my students. Fortunately, I have many Spanish-speaking students and they helped guide me through this process. Not only do I have a northern accent, which my students find funny, but they even got a few laughs in at my attempts to correctly pronounce Spanish words.
The mini unit ended with decorating sugar skulls. Traditionally, these skulls are made using meringue powder. Unfortunately, meringue powder is not easy to find in the South. I spent an entire Sunday afternoon driving all over the city in search of this ingredient, but I could not find it. I then decided to try and make my own meringue to fill the skulls molds with. This did not work either. I became EXTREMELY FRUSTRATED!!!!! And had no idea what I was going to do. Luckily, I settled on using Crayola clay to stuff the molds. It worked, but lacked authenticity. When sharing my adventures with my students, one of my Mexican students asked why I hadn’t just gone to the Mexican grocery store. Believe me, had I know about this, I would have gone there first. Oh well, lesson learned. Even though the sugar skulls weren’t authentic, my students still had a blast decorated them. A few of them even dedicated their skulls to a lost family member. It was very touching. I am glad to report this was the first lesson I actually saw my students EXCITED about and excited middle schoolers are hard to come by.
A BIG Gracious to Stephanie Rodrigvitz and my mom for making this learning opportunity possible. It was a great success!! I can’t wait to do it again next year!